Local residents Niki Stanford

Local residents Niki Stanford

Parksville Qualicum Beach couple doing marathon in Belgium to raise funds, honour vets

Locals can learn about the event and donate on May 31 at The Beach Club in Parksville

A local couple are training hard to take part in a unique marathon Sept. 14 to mark some major anniversaries and raise money for arthritis.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of World War II, Patrick Chenier will take part in the In Flanders Field Marathon and his wife Niki Stanford will run a parallel half marathon across Belgium “to honour the sacrifice of all our Canadian men and women who served this country for the freedom we all enjoy,” he said.

He has run 10k races before, but said the preparations for this marathon are much more strenuous. He said his wife is not a runner at all and is really pushing herself to accomplish the half marathon. To make the huge challenge more personal, they are running to raise money for arthritis, in honour of Chenier’s father’s severe rheumatoid arthritis and Stanford’s late mother’s osteoarthritis and gout.

“Think about what it would be like to not be able to open the door of your own home, go down stairs, walk your dog or pour yourself a glass of water,” they said in a news release. There are more than  4.6 millions Canadians limited by arthritis. “Arthritis affects many older people, but it’s not a disease of the elderly,” Chenier said, adding there are 24,000 Canadians under 18 suffering with it and children as young as two can get it.

The pair are hosting what they hope will become an annual, BlueBird by the Beach event, Saturday, May 31 at The Beach Club, sponsored by

The NEWS. Starting at 11:30 a.m., the luncheon will include a live and silent auction, with all money going directly to the Arthritis Society of Canada, with Chenier and Stanford paying their own expenses. Contact Chenier at 250-927-2725 or patrick.chenier@shaw.ca to discuss ways to help or donate and to purchase the $35 tickets. Visit www.arthritisevents.ca/patrickchenier for more information.